Carper, EPW Democrats Urge OIRA Nominee to Heed the SAB’s Findings and Recommendations on EPA Rollbacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and six senators on the EPW Committee urged Paul Ray, President Trump’s nominee to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), to address concerns raised by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board last week. Mr. Ray was confirmed by the Senate earlier today with a vote of 50-44.

Senator Carper was joined by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in asking Mr. Ray to examine the advisory board’s draft reports on four specific rulemakings currently under review, the Trump Administration’s rollbacks of the clean cars standards, proposed mercury and air toxics rule, clean water rule, and a proposed EPA rule to limit the science that EPA can use in rulemaking. The advisory board found serious shortcomings with how EPA conducted these rulemakings: either the cost-benefit analysis was deficient, the agency did not use the best available science, or the legal rationale underpinning the rule was faulty.

In December, Senator Carper asked for Mr. Ray to commit to ensuring that these rules “are based on the best science, the best data, and the best analysis” – an assurance that Mr. Ray made in his testimony during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing. Today’s letter follows an unanswered letter from Senator Carper and other senators to OMB Acting Director Vought asking for more information about Mr. Ray’s nomination. In the letter, the senators raised serious concerns about Mr. Ray’s failure to adequately respond to multiple inquiries related to his tenure at OIRA.


The Senators wrote, “The mission of the EPA SAB, which consists of 44 scientists (all of whom were appointed or re-appointed by the Trump Administration), includes a call to ‘review the quality and relevance of the scientific and technical information being used by the EPA or proposed as the basis for Agency regulations.’”  


The letter continues, “An examination of the recent reports the SAB issued include findings and recommendations related to EPA’s failures to properly include costs, benefits and other scientific and technical information in its proposed rules.   In light of these troubling SAB reports, we request that you specifically commit to ensuring that if you are confirmed as OIRA Administrator, you will not approve the finalization or re-proposal of these rules unless the following excerpted concerns raised by the SAB, as well as additional concerns included in the full SAB reports are fully and appropriately addressed.”


“Since the EPA Administrator appears inclined to ignore EPA’s own scientific advisors, we therefore request that you commit to ensure that OIRA requires the agency to incorporate the SAB’s findings and recommendations in order to remedy the problems with its proposed rules in a manner consistent with what you said your OIRA role required,” the Senators concluded. 


The full text of the letter to Mr. Ray can be found below, and in PDF form here.